We are honored that Ed Rhoad, the father of VIP President Bob Rhoad, shared his story with us.
In 2008, at the invitation of Stephen and Liz Heinzel-Nelson, my son Bob Rhoad and I traveled to Malawi. There I saw the staggering depth of poverty unlike anything that I had ever seen or imagined. So many orphans and widows. So much hunger and disease. Following a meeting with the leaders in the Sakata district we were able to understand their needs and their priorities. The task of helping them was seemingly overwhelming.
Shortly after returning from that initial trip, my wife’s illness required my full time caregiving, and I was unable to follow through with what was to become Villages in Partnership Inc. But fortunately my son was able to be involved and he became the President of VIP’s Board of Trustees.
Six years later I returned to Malawi, following my wife’s passing. I visited the same villages in the Zomba plains, and with the perspective of time I was able to see the amazing progress that VIP had made. It was far more than I ever expected, simply astounding. I was particularly blown away when I visited the Chimpeni School. It was so far above anything that I had ever imagined.
There were six school buildings plus a house for the school principal. You could see how hungry the children were for knowledge. Such a wonderful sight. And then when I saw the brick on a building that said “love” I simply sat down and cried with happiness.
Soon afterwards, I visited the effort that was underway in Sakata to build a school complex similar to the Chimpeni complex. I felt the hand of God leading me and moving me to action. I made the decision to donate a portion of my wife Ruth’s lifetime savings to help fund the construction of a school building.
In 2016 I returned again, with my other son, Scott Rhoad and my daughter Jennifer Wornom. I wanted them to share the experience of the work that their brother was involved in. As you can imagine it was a very special trip for me. At the end of the trip we attended the dedication of the school building that Ruth had helped fund. To my surprise there was a plaque that read “Ruth’s Rooms.” To have a building in far-away Malawi Africa dedicated to the mother of my children is fulfilling beyond words. It gave meaning to her life, she made a difference. I am deeply humbled that the hand of God used me to fund the building of a school that will have an impact on children’s lives for generations.
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is to look after orphans and widows in their distress.